Papers today are torn between reporting the latest indignations about MP's expenses and prince Harry's latest nightclubbing extravaganza.
On balance, however, it is the former that attracts most attention, not least when linked to issues such as pensions.
Freedom of Information Act measures have forced the 642 great and good to admit a total wage bill of some £78m in the past year, most of it in massive expenses claims.
That total was up more than £20m on the previous year’s figures.
The Daily Telegraph says the average expenses claim of £118,437 compares with an average basic salary of £57,485 – itself more than twice the average national wage.
Top claimants on expenses were all Labour members, although some Sinn Fein members who have never taken their Westminster seats have made claims of more than £100,000 each, the paper writes.
The Times points out Cabinet members have been claiming tens of thousands of pounds for the expense of second homes, whilst actually living in provided accommodation.
”The ministers would defend the use of the allowance on the ground that they would still need their own London homes if there were a change of government or if they were dismissed,” The Times writes.
The Scotsman wades in with focus on Tony Blair, and the fact his expenses claims for upkeep of his constituency-based home in the past three years has been more than the price of the house when bought.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact the Blairs sold their London home when they entered Downing Street, allowing them to claim home-away-from home expenses on the Prime Minister’s residence in the capital.
The expenses figures now published are reason enough to trawl through all the sordid bricks-and-mortar affairs involving the Blair’s and their closes political allies, such as Peter Mandelson, and the Bristol-gate student flats affair, involving conman Peter Foster, The Scotsman says.
THEY MAY NOT admit it, but insurance companies across the US and Europe, including the UK, are starting to see their credit ratings get hit by the ongoing investigations into broker kickbacks by New York State attorney general Eliot Spitzer, the FT reports.
Credit default swaps have widened by up to 30 basis points in the past week on some companies as the market expresses concern creditworthiness could be hit, and business models may have to be changed.
”Credit ratings agencies have not taken action on the ratings of any insurers but have warned they may do so if companies suffer from litigation costs and reputational damage,” the paper adds.IFAonline
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